Norfolk, Virginia - The Nimitz Class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) departed Naval Station Norfolk March 28 to participate in a scheduled sustainment exercise (SUSTEX) with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 8 ships and squadrons.

"Since returning in December from our deployment to the U.S. Second and Sixth Fleets, our tasking has been to remain deployment-ready in every respect," said Commander, Carrier Strike Group Eight, Rear Adm. Gene Black. "This sustainment exercise will provide a realistic and challenging at-sea opportunity to refresh our skills, apply what we learned on deployment and ensure our teams are integrated and ready to take on any mission we may be tasked with."

The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) is in the sustainment phase of the Navy's Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP), conducting operations that directly support the strike group remaining ready to surge forward or redeploy if called upon.

Cmdr. Dan Walker, Harry S. Truman’s strike operations officer, said this underway is critical for remaining a ready, deployable force.

“SUSTEX is designed to test the integration capabilities of the Strike Group,” said Walker. “It’s important because it allows for a full integration into hands-on training. We can’t assume all the people that are here now were here on our last deployment.”

Harry S. Truman and select ships from HSTCSG returned from the first-ever Dynamic Force Employment deployment Dec. 16, 2018.

“The biggest change from this underway [SUSTEX] in comparison to others will be the sheer volume of personnel aboard,” said Walker. “Now that we have the entire complement of supporting units at our disposal, we are able to get a turnover for our new Sailors.”

HSTCSG ships participating in SUSTEX include: the flagship USS Harry S. Truman, commanded by Capt. Nick Dienna; USS Normandy (CG 60), USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), and USS Farragut (DDG 99).

Squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 embarked on Truman include Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 "Red Rippers," VFA-211 "Checkmates," VFA-81 "Sunliners," VFA-136 "Knighthawks," Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137 "Rooks," Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126 "Seahawks," Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72 "Proud Warriors," Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 11 "Dragon Slayers," and a detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 "Rawhides." With support from the squadrons, the ship will perform carrier qualifications and cyclic flight operations to conduct training and increase proficiency.

Also participating in SUSTEX are embarked staffs from Destroyer Squadron 28, CVW-1, and CSG-8.